Hangzhou (abbreviated to Hang, also called Lin’an, Qiantang and Wulin in ancient times) is located in the middle part of southeast China, near Shanghai. It is the capital of Zhejiang Province. With a strong economic foundation and a population of over 8.8 million people, Hangzhou is one of the most prosperous cities in China. It is selected for five years as “The Happiest City in China” in the annual national survey promoted by the Xinhua News Agency. It is also regarded one of the most livable cities in China.
Hangzhou is one of the Seven Ancient Capital Cities. It was the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty from 1127 until the Mongol invasion of 1276. The population is estimated to have been as high as one million in those days, making it the largest city in the world at the time. Even Marco Polo claimed to have passed through, calling it beyond dispute the finest and the noblest in the world.
Hangzhou is also ranking as one of the most scenic cities in China. As a city of gardens, temples, and lakes, Hangzhou’s beauty is praised in all ages. There is an old Chinese saying goes like this: “In heaven there is paradise; on earth there are Suzhou and Hangzhou (上有天堂，下有苏杭).”
Although Hangzhou has been through many recent urban developments, it still retains its historical and cultural heritage. Today, tourism remains an important factor for Hangzhou’s economy. One of Hangzhou’s most popular sights is West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The West Lake Cultural Landscape covers an area of 3,323 ha (8,210 acres) and includes some of Hangzhou’s most notable historic and scenic places. Adjacent to the lake is a scenic area, which includes numerous temples, pagodas, pavilions, gardens and ornamental trees, as well as causeways and artificial islands. Famous poets, scholars and artists since the 9th century have been inspired by the West Lake and the hills surrounding its three sides, and have written numerous poems, stories, and dramas for this blessed place.
Hangzhou is one of the main exhibition cities in China. It is the city which permanently hosts the World Leisure Expo, the China International Animation Festival and the China International Micro Film Festival.